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Nutrition For Better Joint Replacement Outcomes

Overview

Maintaining proper nutrition is the single most important conscious act you can do prior to joint replacement surgery. Your diet plays a huge role in the support of a healthy immune system, which is modulated by your digestive system and the good bacteria that lives in it. Maintaining proper nutrition can also keep your bodies inflammation load down which not only helps with tissue healing but also with post-surgical pain control. Your diet should be rich in antioxidants and vitamins and minerals, all of which play a role in the above-mentioned processes.

The Right Diet

Weight gain or being overweight can put extra stress on your joints. More importantly many of your body systems are stressed when you do exceed your bodies optimum weight. Research has shown that it really doesn’t take a herculean effort to see the health benefit of weight loss. You can experience a significant health benefit from losing just 10% of your body weight. We recommend that if our patients feel they are above their optimum weight before joint replacement surgery they work to lose just that 10% as opposed to a crash diet to lose more. This means that a 200lb woman would need to lose 20lbs and a 300lb man, 30 lbs. The way we recommend doing this is to substitute foods from the list below (in addition to grass fed red meat), for processed foods that they may be routinely eating. 

Prior to joint replacement surgery, we advise our patients to avoid processed food snacks such as cookies and cakes made with white flour, potato chips and fried snacks and most importantly soda pop. Good substitutes for these snacks are dark red or blue colored berries such as Blueberries, Strawberry’s, Blackberries and Cherries, along with nuts, and raisins. Fresh fruit like apples, pears, peaches, plums and fresh vegetables, such as carrots, celery, Cherry tomatoes and sliced bell peppers also make excellent snack substitutes. 

We would like our patients to maintain a diet that includes organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean grass-fed red meats, fresh non-farmed fish and free-range poultry. Organic dairy products such as Greek yogurt are also great sources of protein. 

There are a number of foods that have been shown to decrease inflammation and boost the immune system, here are the ten best foods to decrease chronic inflammation:

  1. Fatty Fish

          a.          Omega-3 Fatty Acids

          b.          Antioxidant, Binds Free Radicals

          c.           Decreases Inflammation

          d.          Salmon, Herring, Sardines, Mackrel

  1. Nuts/Seeds

          .           Vitamin E 

          a.          Magnesium

          b.          Zinc

          c.           Calcium

  1. Berries

           .           Anthocynins, Betalains, Resveratrol

           a.          Powerful Antioxidants

           b.          Binds Free Radicals

           c.           Anti-Inflammatory

  1. Ginger /Turmeric

            .           Vitamin C

            a.          Curcuminoids

            b.          Curcumin

            c.           Anti-Inflammatory

  1. Green Tea

            .           Polyphenols, Flavonoids, Catechins

            a.          Kill Bacteria, Inhibit Viruses

  1. Cherries

            .           Antioxidants

            a.          Anthocyanins, Hydroxycinnamic Acid, Perillyl Alcohol

            b.          Powerful Anti-Inflammatory

 
  1. Broccoli/Kale/Cauliflower

             .           Super Veggies

             a.          Vitamin C, Vitamin K1, Folate (B9)

             b.          Potassium, Manganese, Iron

  1. Pomegranate

              .           Antioxidants

              a.          Punicic Acid

              b.          Vitamin C

 

  1. Green Leafy Vegetables

              .           Antioxidants

              a.       Sulforaphane, Carotenoids, Glucosinolates

              b.    Vitamins/Minerals

                          Lutein, Vitamin A, Beta-Carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin K-2,                            Folate

             c.          Calcium, Potassium

     10. Olive Oil       

             .           Oleic Acid, Omega-3

            a.    Vitamin E, Vitamin K 

Omega-3s

Due to their anti-inflammatory properties, omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to relieve joint pain and swelling. Studies have shown that in people with rheumatoid arthritis, using omega-3s for three to four months resulted in reduced joint pain, stiffness and tenderness. The omega-3s also reduced the need for pain medication. Before and after joint replacement surgery, boost your omega-3 intake by from the food choices above containing omega-3 fatty acids.

Ginger

Researchers suspect that ginger helps reduce inflammation in several ways. In Eastern Medicine, ginger has long been used to treat musculoskeletal problems. In addition to its inflammation-cooling properties, ginger might have anti-cancer properties as well. There are many ways to get more ginger in your diet, such as using it when cooking or drinking ginger tea.

Magnesium

In the body, magnesium works as both a pain reliever and muscle relaxer. Before and after joint replacement surgery, be sure to eat foods rich in magnesium, like leafy green vegetables, or take a magnesium supplement. This helps us to maintain pain control with the minimal use of narcotic and opioid pain medication.

Joint Replacement Recovery

After you have healed from your surgery, continue to practice good nutrition and if you feel you need to, set realistic weight loss goals (one to two pounds per week), eat low-fat and high-fiber foods, limit portion size and exercise regularly. A comfortable length walk, even 15 minutes per day and working your way up to longer walks is a great way to start. Adding additional exercises of varying intensities along the way will keep your interest while breaking up any monotony in your routine. At some point you may want to re-engage in a sport you may have lost interest in after developing your hip or knee arthritis or begin a sport you are curious about. As long as you start with a low impact form, this will help you maximize the years of enjoyment you will receive from your joint replacement.

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